Atheros Driver: License Problems Resolved

Sep 30, 2007

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has approved dual licensing of the Atheros chipset driver. In an investigation, SFLC identified and resolved possible issues.

The "Ath5k" driver for the Atheros WLAN chipset originally comes from OpenBSD, but to use the code for the Linux kernel the license had to be changed to reflect the GPL. However, this prevented code changes being given back to the original driver. Of course, the OpenBSD project wasn't all that thrilled with the prospect.

SFLC, which offers non-commercial legal advice to free software projects, analysed the code and the licenses used. Legal experts concluded that any changes made can be given back to the OpenBSD project in two out of three branches. One branch is exclusively GPL'd and this makes it extremely difficult to hand the code back to OpenBSD.

The Madwifi project was extremely happy with the results and thanked SFLC for its time and support. The developers hope that any doubt concerning licensing and the code is now resolved.

To achieve more clarity for similar issues in future, SFLC has published guidelines that will help developers to use BSD-licensed code in GPL'd projects in future.

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